Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reproductive Value for Breeders

In ecology, there is a measure called the reproductive value of an organism. This measure is for quantifying the potential of an individual organism to affect the population through reproducing offspring throughout its lifetime. The reproductive value of an organism depends on its fertility as well as on its longevity which consequently relies on its ability to survive.

It would be interesting to use the measure of reproductive value of individual organisms when breeding horses, dogs or cattle. This would help the breeder to estimate the reproductive value of each of his animals.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Living in Harmony with Place and Time


Every place on earth has its own types of organisms that live in it. The community of organisms differs from one place to the other. The community of organisms living at some place is affected by the place and its properties. This has also been true for humans. People living in various places on earth differ from one another in color, physical features and even behavior and thoughts. One is affected by the environment he or she lives in.

Unfortunately, the modern industrial age has attempted to 'normalize' all locations and treat all places as if they were the same. One design or one solution that was successful in one place is applied without a lot of thought at other locations despite their being different from the first place where the solution of design was successful. Becoming blind to the unique spirit of each place made us loose a lot of the natural blessings of diversity.


As with place, time also has its unique varying characteristics. We have seasons, the natural world functions according to seasons and change is the normal aspect of nature. Not only do seasons of the year affect plant growth, bird migration and other natural aspects, but also phases of the moon and movement of other planetary bodies have their effects on the natural world on earth and create variations over time.

Unfortunately, the modern industrial age has been treating all time more or less the same. We go to work from 9 to 5 every day regardless of the season or the natural rhythm. Other than just having different clothing, we change nothing in our work system. Time is treated all the same, which is contrary to the laws of nature.

To Harmony

We find ourselves suffering from frustration, depression, pressure and sadness in our modern day systematized life without knowing why. The reasons is simple: we have went astray, we have driven so farm from the laws of nature, we become out of sync with nature and the natural laws. Attempting to regain the balance and become more in harmony with nature and its laws is the only way back for us to regain our peace and serenity.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Small Business Stronger than a Large Business?

The larger the organism the less it is venerable to falling as prey. The larger the size of an organism the stronger it is and the better it is able to defend itself. However, the larger the organism the more resources it needs in order to survive. This aspect makes it more dependent on the available resources and thus more vulnerable from this side. Also predators in general tend to select the larger size of prey, thus making larger sized prey more sought after and thus more vulnerable to falling as prey.

In the world of business, similar general laws apply. Although the larger a business is the more presumably powerful it can be yet at the same time a large business requires much more resources to survive and becomes a target to many more attackers. In the business world, as int he animal world, it is not just about how big you are, nor how small you are, but it is more about being of the right size, the size that makes you the most fit within the ecosystem you are working in and the niche you having.

It all boils down to righsizing. A business that has grown beyond its most optimum size or that is facing lack of resources normally downsizes. Another business may at times try to expand and grow in size to become more fit. The two directions are present in the business world in order for a business to reach its most optimum size that makes it most fit. Businesses that would go in the wrong direction would experience weakness and become less fit as they become too small or too large compared to their optimum size.

Habitats in Paradise

The kind of habitat determines what sort of organisms would live and flourish in it. Some distant secluded islands may show varieties of organisms that are not found elsewhere and are quite different from what we are used to see. Organisms living and flourishing in a particular habitat tend to be well adapted to such habitat and live in harmony with it.

Now let's imagine what sort of 'habitat' or different habitats would be present in paradise? For sure it would be quite different from the ones we have here on earth. Consequently, the types of organisms living there would be equally wondrous.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Modeling Age Structures for Market Research

Newly established cities in Cairo, such as New Cairo, tend to attract the newly married and young families. This contrasts with older areas in Cairo that tend to have a much higher percentage of older generations living in them. As a result, schools for children tend to flourish in areas such as New Cairo due to the presence of a high percentage of young families that tend to have children who would naturally need to go to school.

Using principles and methods from ecology the model age structures can help a business study the various age structures in different geographical areas of a city or country. Such studies can also help project future estimates of age structures. Such information can be highly valuable when doing market research.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Spiritual Causes of Infestations

Imbalances in natural ecosystems can be caused by human behavior and human beliefs. If there is an imbalance in human behavior based on a generally flawed set of beliefs, this can cause an imbalance in nature consequently affecting the balance in the natural ecosystem and causing it to 'fight' back.

Let's say in some society people do all sorts of bad behavior and are not balanced by other people doing good in that same society then this leads to an imbalance in nature and the natural ecosystem. Consequently, this may lead to infestations and natural disasters. Science has yet to test this and see how statistically sound this hypothesis can be.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Real Reason Behind 18+ Marriage Law

The longer the average age of humans the longer is the age of each generation. The younger the age of marriage the more overlapping that takes place between generations. A child may normally see his grandparents in some communities while in others it is common for a child to see his great grandparents and still in others to see his great great grandparents! When life is longer and age of marriage is less, more generations tend to overlap.

As more generations overlap, populations tend to increase rapidly. Restricting age of marriage to be 18+ tends to cap this a bit. Enforcing such rule on developing countries too assists in restricting their high population growth rate.

Scientifically speaking, some people do not mature physically and/or emotionally even after they are 18 years old while others mature both physically and emotionally way before they are 18 years old. The arbitrary marriage age of 18 years, even if taken as an average of maturity, is just an easy way for law makers to have a one-size-fits-all law that can be easily enforced notwithstanding its inaccuracy and nonconformity to the sciences of biology and psychology.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Companies Propagating as Plants

Some plants propagate by extending their roots laterally then shooting up stems. The plant actually grows using such method and the growing number of stems are actually interconnected at the ground level through an extensive system of interconnected roots. At first, the budding shoot is dependent on the parent plant for nutrition and support. As the shoot grows, it can becomes less dependent on the parent plant and can survive on its own even if the connection to its parent plant was severed through the roots.

Similarly, in the business world, a company may grow by setting off new ventures in different sectors. The new spin-offs may be dependent at first on the parent company but then grow less dependent with time. They might ultimately reach a point where they are completely independent of the parent company and can survive on their own.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Viewing Companies as a Species

It is common that banks would provide credit for companies that are over 2 years old. This screening rule that banks use to filter out budding companies helps banks avoid a lot of bad credit. The reasoning is that statistically it has been show that a large percentage of companies close within the first 2 years of their inception.

It would be interesting to go even deeper with statistics about companies in the same fashion that ecologists use life tables to gather and analyse data about the life and death of organisms. By doing so, one could gain much more insights and be able to understand the business world and the business landscape on a deeper level. Different types of companies can thus be treated as different types of species and a lot can be learned.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Working with Imperfect Data in the Business World

In science, data does not have to be perfect all the time. We can get data that is incomplete or that has 'noise' in it, yet still manage to work with such data, analyze it, enhance it and come up with new insights based on such less-than-perfect data. Of course there is a limit to such imperfection, data that is totally inaccurate would not lead us anywhere. Yet if the the data collected is in its majority of good quality it can be usable even if it is less than perfect.

The same applies in the business world. It is usually impossible to get all the data needed to reach a perfect decision making process. In business, we try to collect the best data we can, but have to make decisions based in data that is often less than perfect. The better the quality, accuracy and comprehensiveness the data the better support it would give to a great decision making process. Yet lack of such high quality or perfect data should not deter us from using it for business decision making.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Data Visualization and Strategic Planning

In science in general, it is common practice to collect large amounts of data. When such data is collected along a good deal of time, it can then be analyzed. It is interesting how converting such data into graphs by plotting them on 2-dimensional planes or even 3-dimensional graphs can help visualize them and therefore making analysis easier. Such visualization can assist in classifying and comping up with categories and conclusions.

This system is not only good for science, it can be a powerful tool for business as well. Data collection and visualization can aid in gaining business insights and therefore in business decision making and strategic planning.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Treat your Teenager Daughter as an Annual Plant

For humans and many animals, several generations can live together concurrently. This happens because offspring start maturing before their parents die. This allows different generations to interact with one another. In humans, this allows the exchange of experience and ultimately to the building of civilizations when such learned experience is transferred from one generation to the other and added to.

For some plants, however, the new generation starts sprouting after their parents have died. They are always 'orphans'. This necessitates that they have the ability to depend fully on themselves and not need the help of their parents.

When bringing up your children, it is essential to realize that they need your care and attention, this is how humans are created. Yet it is equally important to realize that at some point in time it is useful to allow your children to grow out of such dependence and depend on themselves. Perhaps studying, learning about and observing annual plants can provide you with many clues on how to best do just that.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Business Seed Banks

Plant Seed Banks

Some seeds sprout as soon as they fall from their mother plant. Other seeds might stay dormant and and sprout only on the following year. Still other seeds may keep dormant for many years till they 'decide' to sprout. Such seeds form seed banks inside the soil.

Business Seed Banks

Similarly, in the business world some ideas start sprouting as soon as they come to mind. The person who gets the idea can start right away working on it. Other business ideas may stay dormant in the mind for many years till the right time for them to 'sprout' comes. It is totally OK and natural that you keep some ideas brewing in your mind for some period of time that might reach even years before deciding to let it out and actually act upon it. Make sure, however, that you do not keep all your ideas heavily guarded in a seed bank forever without allowing any of them to see the light!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Survivorship Curves for Businesses

Survival Curves in Organisms

Ecologists classify survivorship curves for organisms into three types. The first type is where organisms have high survival rates from the start of their lives and throughout their lives then such survival rates tend to drop abruptly by the end of their lifespan. The second type is organisms that tend to have more or less constant survival rates and tend to die with a constant rate from the beginning till the end of their lifespan. The third category is organisms that have very low survival rates at the beginning of their lives then those that actually survive enjoy high survival rates throughout their lifespans.

Examples of organisms belonging to the third category are fish that produce huge numbers of eggs, a small percentage of which survive. Some organisms also show different survivorship curves depending on their density. If their are in very high density they show type 3 curves where they have low survival rates at the beginning of their lifespans, same as with fish. If they are in low densities then they show type 1 curves where they enjoy high survial rates from the beginning of their lifespans.

Survival Rates in Businesses

It would be interesting to apply similar sets of survivorship curves to businesses. Businesses that 'grow' in high densities of other competing businesses tend to have low survival rates at the beginning of their lives. Once they establish themselves after the initial dangerous period, they tend to enjoy high survival rates.

Businesses that grow in low densities of other competing businesses tend to enjoy high survival rates right from the start of their lifespans and continue to enjoy such high survival rates throughout their lifespan.

Another way to get inspiration from survivorship curves of organisms is to apply them to an individual person who is attempting to start many businesses. A person might have a great number of business ideas (seeds) and attempt to 'sow' such ideas and start new businesses. Such high rate of ideas or startups might witness a high rate of mortality at the beginning of their lifespans. Those ideas that survive may then enjoy high survival rates throughout their lifespans.

In contrast, a different approach might be followed by another business person. He or she might carefully tend for only a few (one or two) business ideas through carefully planning and continued support. Such ideas, which would turn into businesses, may enjoy high survival rates from the onset of their lifespans.

Let the Seeds Die

It is quite natural that not all seeds would germinate and grow and become adults plants that reach the stage of bearing fruit and providing offspring. In conventional agriculture, we try to save every seed we sow, yet this is not how nature works. It would be interesting to aim at practicing natural agriculture where seeds can be sown while we are totally OK with the idea that many of them will be dying with time, either consumed by a bird, rotted by microorganisms or 'lost' in any other way to nature. Such seeds are not actually lost, but they cycle again into the system, it's just that their 'energy' returns back to us in a different form.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Comparing Survival Rates of Humans to Mammals

It is interesting how in ecology we can standardize tables survival or mortality in a way so as to compare those tables for various species. It is then possible to compare for instance the survival rates of different types of trees or plants or even compare survival tables of humans to those of other mammals.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reproductive Rates, Interesting and Useful

It is interesting how fecundity schedules can provide us with clues into how a species would increase in number by studying its reproductive and survival rates. One common application for fecundity is to calculate the fertility of humans in a given population. Other interesting applications are in the world of plants, animals and other organisms. It would be interesting and useful to use such knowledge in natural agriculture. This could help us spread plants using natural methods.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life Tables

Life tables are commonly used for animals and plants. It is interesting to use life tables for humans too. It provides interesting stats for a given population. It would be nice to compare different peoples living in different regions of a country and see how their life tables differ. That would be quite an interesting analysis. Plotting the tables in graph form would make it easier to visualize and come up with insights.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How Long Does a Plant Live?

There are plants that live for one year only, or less, then die. Those are the annual plants. Tomatoes is one example of annual plants. There are plants that live for several years, those are called perennial plants. Trees are examples of perennial plants, for example fruit trees like apple and mango trees. There also exists a type of plants that grow for two years then die. They develop on two stages, during the first year they start growing then on the second year they give flowers and fruit. Plants belonging to this category are called biennial plants. Examples of biennial plants are onion and carrot.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ecology Bringing Abundance

Rather than practicing farming and agriculture, it would be interesting to use the science of ecology to increase the abundance of needed plants and animals in an ecosystem for the prosperity of humans.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Software that Predicts Plant Growth?

It would be nice to come up with predictive systems that can provides estimates of the number of modules (leaves, branches, flowers and so on) of a plant that would be growing provided a set of conditions such as resources of water, nutrients and conditions of solar radiation and temperature. Such models may be statistical. One can use machine learning such as neural networks or artificial intelligence to build such models. That would be an interesting project to pursue. Probably there are already such systems existing, it would be still interesting to pursue this more and expand on them.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

When Spin-offs Compete with their Parent Companies

A budding plant would benefit from being attached to its parent plant at the beginning. This connection helps it 'nurse' on resources from the parent plant. As the young plant starts to grow, competition for resources make take place between the young plant and its parent till it reaches a point where it overwinters the benefits the new plant gets from being attached to the main parent plant.

This phenomenon may similarly happen in businesses. When a spin-off from a large corporation is still small, it benefits from being close the the parent company and relies on its network and resources. Later on and as the spin-off grows, its connection with its larger parent corporation provides it with less benefit compared to the competition for resources (clients) it may now start to experience.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do Larger Businesses Enjoy Longer Lives?

In nature there seems to be a relationship between the size of an organism and how long it lives. The smaller the size of an organism the shorter its life span. The larger the organism the longer is its life span. Microorganisms tend to have very short lives, followed by insects then by small animals followed by medium sized animals then finally large sized animals tend to live for long. Of course this is not a definitive rule, for turtles, which are surely way smaller than elephants, can live way longer than elephants can. Nevertheless, this rule of thumb holds in general for a wide variety of species.

Is it possible that there exists a similar rule for nations and businesses? Would it be appropriate to say that the larger the size of a nation or the larger the size of a business the longer it survives in contrast to other nations or businesses? It would be interesting to explore such a concept and see to how extend it would hold in the nations and business worlds.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Small Farm Beating Large Farm?

It is not how many trees you have in your garden or farm, but it is also how many branches those trees have, how many flowers do they make and how many fruits they produce. A farm may have a large area yet poorly producing trees. A much smaller farm yet with more sturdy trees that have vigorous root systems and plenty of resources available for them and appropriate conditions may provide a much more abundant produce than the larger farm.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grow your Business Like a Plant


There are organisms that grow in size but do not change in their form or structure. For instance, humans are born with a specific number of fingers, hands and legs. This form remains the same as a human develops. The size of the parts can grown but the form stays the same.


There exists other types of organisms that change in form as they grow. Plants first form a seedling which grown roots then leaves. A stem develops then later flowers, which fall, then after that comes the fruits which are also separated from the plant. The number of leaves in a plant keeps increasing as it grows. Unlike in humans, where the number of fingers stays the same but just can increase in size.


These two different modes of growth in unitary (like humans) and modular (like plants) organisms can inspire us to think about how a business can also grow. A business may grow by keeping its form yet growing the size of each of its existing parts. A store, for instance, may expand by renting more space and becoming physically bigger. Businesses may also expand by adding more 'modules' to themselves. A retail business may expand by adding new branches in the same way a tree expands by adding more branches and leaves. A company may grown by diversifying its offerings and adding more products that it produces or sells.

It is quite interesting to see how the world of plants and animals can inspire ways of looking at businesses.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Can Two People Become One?

The question of "what's an individual" is very interesting. I often thought of the concept of an individual organism as being something unquestionable. Yet it is interesting to think and ponder about this question. It even brings us to philosophical and spiritual questions such as does a man and wife blend together and become at some point in time a single individual? Do twins or very close friends at some point in time become one? Is the concept of separateness of individuals something that can be changed if just for a temporary period of time? This concept can be even extended to religion and religious beliefs and oneness and separateness. Such concepts though might be a bit too touchy to discuss in a blog like this, so I'll do with planting this seed of thought in your mind and leave you to explore it on your own.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Call for Studying Urban Ecology in Cairo

Here is an interesting ecological formula:
N(now) = N(then) + B - D + I - E
This formulate indicates that the number of organisms, denoted by N(now), of a particular species occupying a specific area is equal to the number of such organisms present in the past, denoted by N(then), plus the number of births, B, between then and now, minus the number of deaths, D, plus the number of immigrants, I, minus the number of emigrants, E.

In the streets of Cairo, Egypt, we see cats and dogs even weasels, we also find crows, doves, home sparrows and sometimes hoopoes, bulbuls and other kinds of birds. It would be interesting to study the life of such organisms as part of the urban ecology. This would help us then devise methods by which to control and limit the dispersal of specific undesired species, such as dogs in the streets or crows , while encouraging the spread of others such as bulbuls and hoopoes.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Business Food Chains

Competition Over Resources

Competition soars as resources become limited. If you want to spur competition, reduce the resources available. If you want to make competition disappear, flood them with resources. This concept works with your children at home, with your employees at the office and with citizens in a nation.

Business Food Chains

The food chain in living organisms can inspire the concept of value chain in an economy. Minute organisms feed on micro-nutrients, higher organisms feed on those microorganisms then even higher living organisms feed on them and so on in a long food chain. Similarly, in the business world, large corporations depend on smaller ones and the smaller ones depend on yet smaller ones till the bottom of the business 'food' chain. It would be interesting to study the food chain in living organisms more closely and come up with insights to better understand the dynamics of business ecosystems, how they work and how to best leverage them.

Business Roots

A plant would develop a variety of root types as the roots penetrate varying layers of soil as it goes deeper down the soil and also laterally on the sides. Similarly, a business can develop a number of revenue making models depending on the market in which it offers its products and services.

Coevolution of Political Parties

The concept of coevolution is very interesting. An organism might evolve in such a way so as to protect itself from its predator while in turn its predator evolves in such a way so as to be able to hunt it down. Both keep coevolving in a continuous path. This concept can be applied to opposing political parties which may coevolve to differentiate from one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Types of Thieves

Intangible Plant Needs

What if plants do not only need the card measured resources such as nutrients, minerals, CO2, O2, sunlight and water? What if plans also need love, care, companionship, compassion and other intangible conditions? How about sound waves, what if plants need those too? What if plants are affected by the singing of the birds in a positive way? It would be quite interesting not only to study such conditions and their effect on plants, but also to use such knowledge that we come up with in order to devise systems by which we can care for plants. For instance, if in agriculture we know that a specific kind of crop or fruit tree needs such an amount of nitrogen, how about also knowing that it needs such specific sound waves in order to bear good fruit? That would be a completely new dimension in agriculture. I hope that when such time comes, sound requirements of a plant would be provided to it through natural means such as the singing of birds rather than using electronic devices that emit specific frequencies of sound waves in a farm.

Types of Thieves

Some organisms may be specialized in feeding on a particular type of plant, such as the silkworm and the mulberry tree leaves. Other organisms may feed on a variety of plants and animals. Similarly, thieves may specialize and 'prey' on particular types of robbery. Some thieves would be pickpockets that specialize on picking pockets. Others might be burglars who break into houses and rob their contents. Still other types of thieves might be those who steal bags from pedestrians. Yet other even more dangerous types may threaten to use force in order to take your belongings right before your very eyes. There are of course thieves who are 'generalists', they do not specialize in a particular type of robbery yet 'feed' on a variety of different types.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Interactions of Nutrients

Some foods can substitute others. Some foods are required by humans and cannot be substituted. This is an essential piece of information for nutrition. Some nutrients would actually enhance the effect of each other thus making the consumption of them together much more beneficial than consuming each of them by itself.

Supplying all Essential Resources

Sometimes in order for a plant to make use of a particular resource, such as a nutrient, it cannot do so except in the availability of another resource, such as another nutrient. So no matter how abundant the first resource is, the lack of availability or scarcity of the second resource would limit the growth of the plant.

Similarly, for humans, it is best to seek which required resources are scarce and try to make them available rather than increase the resources which are already present in abundance.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Survival and Fitness of Nations

Organisms that are able to survive on a wide variety of resources are better able to survive. Those that are too specialized would have a more difficult time surviving due to their dependence on a specific type of resource. Nations that are addicted to easy lifestyles can be considered as less fit than those which are used to hardship.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Types of Business Defenses


Soldiers use camouflage in their uniform so as to hide from the enemy and not be easily seen. This is similar to what many organisms do, they use colors that are close or similar to their background in order not to be easily spotted by predators.

Types of Business Defenses

Animals use a number of methods to protect themselves from falling prey to a predator. Some organisms would try to be less visible by employing camouflage, such are the ones which are edible. Others, which are inedible or poisonous, would actually do the opposite and display their colors vividly in order to warn predators not to come near. Still others that are edible would try to mimic the colors and shapes of the poisonous organisms so that predators would be tricked into thinking they are poisonous too and avoid eating them!

It is interesting how in the human world similar methods may be used weather in business or by armies. Some 'edible' businesses may try to hide from 'predictors' by keeping a low profile. Other 'inedible' businesses may actually display themselves very vividly showing to everyone that they cannot be consumed. Still other businesses would try to mimic the same display of the 'poisonous' businesses to avoid being harassed by preying businesses. The same methods can also be seen in various kids of armies.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Organism Defenses Inspire Armies

Organism Defenses Inspire Armies

The various defense systems present in plants, animals and other organisms can be taken as a model to inspire defense systems for armies. It is interesting to know that even plants have their own chemical 'weapons' something which can inspire chemical warfare. While chemicals released by plants can protect them from predators while leaving the plant itself unharmed, chemical weapons devised by humans must be used with care in order not to harm those who are releasing them.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Business Defenses

To continue with the metaphor of businesses being like organisms where some businesses 'consume' other businesses while some businesses enter into symbiotic relationships with other businesses there are also businesses that defend themselves against being 'eaten' by other larger or more aggressive business entities. An active organization should maintain passive as well as active means by which it protects itself from being preyed upon by other organizations.

Some businesses would employ camouflage to escape being pray to other 'predictor' businesses. Others might fight back to survive. Still others might try to withdraw and retreat to be safe.

It is interesting to note that as some organisms may be specialized in preying upon other specific organisms, also in the world of businesses some businesses might be specialized in preying upon particular types of other businesses.

Decay Sucking Up Nitrogen

Microorganisms consume a lot of nitrogen and little oxygen when decomposing plant remnants. That is why when a piece of wood decays inside a soil, the nitrogen content around it is dramatically reduced. This can cause plants growing nearby to wilt or die due to the reduced nitrogen content in the soil that has been transferred to the microorganisms that are decaying the wood. It is thus advisable not to include a lot of brown (wood) decaying material next to new plants in order not to deprive them from the nitrogen content present in the soil.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feeders Inspire Business Models

The specialization of some organisms in eating specific parts in particular of a plant can be mirrored in the business world in businesses that have a specific niche and target a narrow client base. Other organisms consume a diverse set of plants and plant parts and can be mirrored in the business world in businesses that cover a wide range of different customers. Other types of feeders can be mirrored by other types of business organizations. It is very interesting to study the different type of feeders in ecology and biology and compare them to various types of businesses  in the business world. This can give us increased insight and even inspire improved or whole new business modes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Business Food Chain

Business Food Chain

The food chain and types of relationships among various organisms in various levels of the food chain can be taken as a model for how businesses work in an economy. Some businesses prey on others, some compete with one another, some fall pray to others, some are like parasites that keep draining others and still some have mutually beneficial relationships with one another.

It is worthwhile to deeply exploring the ecological ecosystem and mirroring this on the business world to gain insights and inspiration.

Attracting Birds

In order to attract specific kinds of birds it would be advisable to research what kind of habitat such birds thrive in and try to make such habitat available for them. Growing specific types of trees is one good method to attract birds of specific desired types. In a dream house it would be nice to have various types of trees singing and flying around.

Food Vs. Oxygen in an Aquarium

Food Vs. Oxygen in an Aquarium

We are often advised not to put too much food for gold fish or any kind of small fishes we keep at an aquarium at home. The reason behind this, ecology says, is that when such nutrients decay they can consume a lot of the oxygen dissolved in the water that depriving the fish from such oxygen and consequently killing the fish in the aquarium. We thus should provide only enough food for the fish to eat at once.

Creating Compost

The sciences of ecology and biology can provide us with lots of knowledge and inspiration into creating excellent compost by understanding microorganisms and their interactions as well as the flow of nutrients.

Business Modeled on Plant Roots Behavior

Mountain Minerals and Plant Varieties

Plants need nutrients. It would be interesting to explore the idea that in places where there are mountains containing specific minerals, specific types of plants would grow that consume and need such type of minerals. Such plants do not have to live on the mountains themselves, but may live near them or live in a place where such minerals are being transported through rivers. The type of minerals found in mountains and in locations around the world might thus be indicative of what kinds of plants grow there in grow near the stream of water that transports such minerals which would be nutrients for such plants.

Minerals for Humans

It is interesting to consider the minerals that humans need. Which minerals does the body consume and need, what function or group of functions does each of those minerals play and which minerals are not needed by the body or even harmful to it?

When animals eat plants, the get access to minerals in such plants. Humans for instance can get the iron mineral by eating plants that are grown in iron rich soils.

Roots Adapt to Soil

Roots of plants develop in different ways according to the type of soil they are in. It is therefore not a good idea to move a plant by unrooting and removing all the soil around its roots and putting it in a different kind of soil. This would harm the plant and create a shock. If this is absolutely necessary, then it is a good idea to prune the roots when transplanting in order to encourage new growth of new roots that are adapted to the new type of soil.

Business Modeled on Plant Roots Behavior

The way roots expand can be taken as a model for creating new business. Roots are the 'mouth' of the plant. They are the part that a plant uses to obtain the resources of nutrients and water. Roots first 'explore' the soil around them by shooting a taproot then they start exploiting the resources once they have discovered where they are and 'how' to obtain them. Similarly, it would be a good strategy for a business that wants to obtain resources (usually money) to first go through a phase of exploration (market research) to see where the resources are and how they can be exploited then start stretching its services to exploit such resources.

Discovering Companion Plants

Studying ecology and plant biology can help us in determining which plants can work well as companion plants instead of just relying on trial and error. By checking to see the nutrient requirements of various plants, this could provide us with clues on which plants can best be grown next to one another benefiting each other and not competing with one another.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Predicting Water Requirements of Plants

Predicting Water Requirements of Plants

It is possible to predict the rate of transpiration of plants in a specific area based on temperature, wind speed, solar radiation and other factors. There are complex models to predict that. It is interesting to use such models when planning for agriculture. This could help us determine the water requirements of plants.

Humid Plantations

One phenomenon I've noticed while sleeping over near or next to plantations in agricultural land in Egypt is the high rate of humidity at night. The weather feels very cold and the humidity is so high. One feels really sticky. It does not feel good at all. Now I understand that this is due to the high rate of transpiration of plants which loose a lot of water that holds still in the air and is not evaporated at night. It would be great to think of solutions for this phenomenon in order to make the atmosphere around such plantations more comfortable for humans to live in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Soil Microorganisms

Soil Microorganisms

In permaculture, microorganisms in the soil have a crucial role to play in maintaining the health and well being of plants that are grown in that soil. Plants feed on nutrients that are provided by such microorganisms. By providing chemical fertilizers, tilling the soil a large proportion of such useful microorganisms are lost thus leading to the degradation of 'life' in the soil and thus plants suffer on the long term or become addicted to and dependent on the chemical fertilizers. Permaculture seeks to break such dependence and free plants and their carers making agriculture more sustainable.

Soil, Water and Plants

It is interesting how the size of particles in the soil, for instance sand having large particles, can affect the water holding capacity of such soil and the ability of plant roots to move and absorb water from it. Such things can be measured in order to determine the optimal conditions for a plant to grow and develop. It is interesting how such measurements can aid in planning for agriculture.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reusing Transpired Water

Plants transpire a lot of water, much more than the amount they actually use to build their 'body' parts. This phenomenon can be made use of in order to reuse water in the best way possible. For instance, plants that use water then transpire most of it can have other plants next to them that would use such water which in turn would have other plants around them that would use the water those plants transpire and so on. Even if there would be some loss of water at the end, it would not be as much as in the case where a plant transpires water and such water is never reused by other plants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roof Gardens

For green roofs in Egypt one should seek plants that are well adapted to the conditions of Egypt and would thrive on the rooftops of buildings in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. There is plenty of sun radiation on the roof during most of the year and there is plenty of CO2. Water is available too in apartment buildings. What is needed is the know-how. Through training and awareness programs such project can take off. It is vital to select plants that are well suited to such conditions rather than try to force growing varieties of plants that would require extra care when grown in the current Cairo rooftop conditions.

Cactus and succulents might be good candidates for growing on rooftops.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Indoor Plants

The C3, C4 and CAM pathways of how plants consume CO2 can provide us with a guide on which plants to use indoors particularly in bedrooms so that they do not exhale CO2 into the room thus posing a threat to people sleeping at night.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Multipass Learning

When learning about something, it could be useful to have a glimpse of it or a first pass over it from one angle then later on revisit the same concept again from a different angle or have a second pass over it from a different source. For instance, you might read about a specific concept from a book about ecology. You may later read about the very same concept in a textbook about biology. The terminology would probably sound familiar during this second pass. You would probably understand the concept more fully now while you might have not been able to grasp it completely during the first pass while you were reading about it in the ecology textbook.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nitrogen and CO2

It is interesting to know that not all plants convert CO2 into carbon in the same way. Nitrogen seems to help in assisting plants to make use of CO2 while at the same time making the plant able to loose CO2 as if nitrogen helps the plant to breath. It would be nice to look for the ultimate conditions and resources that a plant needs in order to develop and grow. This would be wonderful for food production and creating food forests.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Carbon Dioxide

While the rise of CO2 is considered a harmful sign, yet I would be interesting to consider it as an increase in a resource that plants crave. The rise in carbon dioxide can be seen as an incredible resource upon which new growth and new plants can flourish. It would be good to use such a resource and use its abundance to grow much more forests.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Water and Plant Growth

Water and Plant Growth

When the stomata in plant leaves open up to take in CO2 for carry out photosynthesis it increases the rate of loss of water by the plant. When stomata are closed, water loss by the plant is reduced but CO2 is not allowed in and thus photosynthesis is inhibited. When water is scarce, plants may thus try to conserve water and photosynthesis is reduced. When water is plentiful, photosynthesis, given there is plenty of CO2 and sun radiation, becomes very active. This is why plants would flourish, grow faster and develop faster when provided with water. Conversely, plant growth and development is inhibited when water becomes scarce. [explanation]

Seasonal Cycles

The universe is in constant motion. Things change. Things move in circles and cycles. The seasons of the year are just one example of that. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in autumn and then grow them back in spring. Humans similarly wear warm clothing in winter and light clothing in summer. It is natural to interact with the seasons and change with them. Attempting to be rigid and still, not changing with the seasons, remaining constant in the face of change is not the natural way to go.

Biomimetics in the Desert

Desert plants use a number of tactics to withstand the heat. One of these tactics is having waxy leaves. It would be interesting to study this and other tactics for inspiration on how to make houses in the desert better able to withstand the heat without needing electric air conditioners. Sounds to me like an opportunity for biomimicry that can suit countries like Egypt where many new cities are being built in what was essentially a desert.

When to Water Plants?

During summer, particularly in temperate or warmer zones, it is best not to water plants during noon. If plants were watered at that time, the stomata in the leaves would open up to take in CO2 and perform photosynthesis. This could lead to a major loss of water due to heavy transpiration under strong sun radiation. That is why it is best to water plants during the early morning or late at night when the sun radiation is not too strong or absent.

Do: Read in biology.

Note: Reading and writing during the early morning is much more productive than later in the day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rich and Poor People

Leaves of sun plants use a number of tactics to reduce the amount of light they absorb from strong sun rays while leaves of shade plants use opposite tactics to increase the amount of sun radiation they absorb. So if leaves of a sun plan receives 7 times more radiation than leaves of a shade plant, they would absorb only 4 times more radiation than those of the shade plant. This is an interesting phenomenon. People who are rich may waste a lot of their food or wealth while those who are poor can be much more efficient and make much better use of the resources available for them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Abundance through Use

Trapping Carbon

Using the sciences of ecology and biology one can estimate the amount of carbon dioxide converted by plants and trapped into carbon by let's say a group of trees. This would be great in calculating carbon offsetting. It is nice how science can help us measure and thus make better more informed decisions.

Shade Plants

It would be good to know if shade plants give out less carbon dioxide at night than sun plants. If so, then shade plants would be safer to keep in doors at homes for they would then produce less carbon dioxide at night preventing suffocation hazards for residents.


We often find that weeds are resilient. We fight them but they come back. We keep fighting them yet they persist and survive even flourish. We can think of some phenomena in society or in our human communities as weeds. If we fight them, they might still persist and become even stronger in an attempt to survive. One way of dealing with such 'negative' phenomena is not to fight them and try to kill them but to try and understand them and see why in the first place have they flourished. It is then that we can devise solutions that would make use of such 'weeds' and keep them in check at the same time.

For instance, the phenomenon of street children in Egypt can be seen as a 'weed' problem. Trying to fight this negative phenomenon would take too much energy and would probably not provide a sustainable solution. Yet attempting to understand the reasons behind the outbreak of such phenomenon and making adjustments in the 'ecosystem' can lead to better balance and the gradual sustained disappearance of such phenomenon.

Abundance through Use

Ecology and biology tell us that the more a plant withdraws nutrients to feed its growing buds and other parts the more its leaves work and absorb energy through photosynthesis. This phenomenon is interesting and reminds us of a lactating mother, the more her baby suckles the more milk she produces. This concept of growth through use and abundance through use is common in nature and natural organisms. A muscle would only grow if you keep using it. Weight lifting can give you really large muscles. A muscle not in use would get smaller in size. The concept can even be used for writers. The more you write the more flow you find and the better you are able to produce writings. This concept of abundance by use contrasts sharply with the non-natural inanimate world of things. For instance, the more space you use in your computer's hard drive the less space will be available in it.

An additional example also on this same phenomenon is giving money for charity. They more you give the more money that will come back to you. [phenomenon]

Science in Agriculture

Agriculture in our current age has been affected by science. Not necessarily deep and comprehensive science but some selective science and in some occasions shallow science. The scientific method has affected agriculture and not always in a good way. We check for nutrients needed by plants and its different parts. What nutrients do leaves require, what nutrients do flowers require and so on. What nutrients and in which phase would make the plant grow larger in size and in the shortest time possible and preferably even out of season. Money has pushed the use of science in agriculture to in imbalance. We seek size of produce, amount of produce, less time to growth and not give much attention to taste or nutritional value. In the past, before science got involved with agriculture, people just relied on their observations and natural instincts and local knowledge to garden, grow crops and take care of plants. They did well producing flavorful fruits and veggies that were safe to consume and delicious to taste.

The best way ahead would be to use science, yet in a full and balanced way. If science was used in order to help use growth more flavorful more nutritious food that is sustainable and good in every way to the ecosystem in which it is grown then this would be the proper use of science and agriculture would cease to be a negative factor for the environment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Socioeconomic Ecosystems

Plants and Sunlight

We used to study at school that plants need water, air and sunlight in order to live and grow. This information was hardwired in my brain so that when I grew up I just figured out plants need direct sunlight and the more you provide it the better. I was later astonished to find the leaves of my young plants withering under the harsh sunlight of summer during noon in Egypt. I then realized that yes plants do need sunlight but that too much of it can actually harm them. Of course it depends on the type of plant as well as the developmental phase in which the plant is. Some plants tolerate higher intensities of sunlight than others. As a plant matures, it can also tolerate higher intensities of sunlight. [story]

Computer Simulation

When designing a garden for landscaping purposes, it is essential to check out the incident light radiation at the location where the garden would exist. Using calculations from lat and long (gathered via GPS) as well as shade from existing structures (buildings) a computer simulation can tell us what kind of plants can be grown and where.

It would be interesting to devise a computer program, if such program does not already exist (which I doubt it does not), that would use artificial intelligence, perhaps a combination of genetic algorithms and neural networks, to propose some garden designs for a given location. You provide the program with the lat/long and altitude (GPS coordinates) of the location and a 3D sketch of the structures available in addition to some other variables related to preferences and constraints related to the desired garden and the program proposes to you a number of garden designs. The program can 'learn' by you feeding it with information about the various plants and their interactions with one another providing it with indigenous varieties to grow gardens in a permaculture way. It wold be interesting to design such program.

Such program would need the development of a computer model in order to simulate plant growth and interactions between plants. Such would be a very complex model. It can use neural networks in order to learn and develop such model or make it more accurate.

It would be nice if such program would also provide a maintenance plan for the garden providing instructions on how to care for it, when to water and so on. [do]

Ward El Neel

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia), which in Arabic is called "ward el neel" or literally "flowers of the Nile", presents a big problem in Egypt as it grown wild in the River Nile consuming a lot of water and blocking waterways. One reason given for such enormous growth of water hyacinth is the clarity of the Nile River water in Egypt that resulted from the building of the Aswan High Dam which prevents clay from entering the water stream. As a result of that, sunlight is able to reach into more depths of the water this breathing more life into the invasive plant. Before the building of the High Dam, an annual influx of fine sand, silt and clay used to enter the water stream darkening the color of the water and making it more or less opaque thus preventing sun rays from reaching into the depths of the river consequently preventing the invasive water hyacinth from having its current invasive behavior. [solution]

Evergreen and Deciduous

When designing a garden, one should take into account the deciduous and evergreen trees. It would be good to plan so that during autumn deciduous trees would shed their leaves bringing more sunlight to the evergreen trees if the latter were planted in the shade of the former. Moreover, the phases in which the garden will go through should also be taken into consideration. Plants will grow and develop and the garden will take a new shape as the years go by. This growth and development should be taken into account.


Interactions between plants are so intricate and complex that it is difficult to create a simulation of it using a computer model. It is thus not easy to predict with precision what takes place in the future for many plants growing together particularly so if the conditions in which they live are not being controlled. It would be still interesting to try to predict with precision how a tree would look like as it develops, which branches would grow, how many of them and in which directions. That would be an interesting exercise to work on.

Socioeconomic Ecosystems

The study of ecology and in particular ecosystems can provide useful insight into how interactions among natural systems works. Learnings from this field can then be used to provide more understanding of human social and economic interactions in the socioeconomic ecosystem.


It would be interesting to go visit places containing organism that one reads about in ecology. For instance, it would be nice to go visit water bodies where plankton exist and see and touch them in order to have a feel of what they really are and see them in their natural environment.


It would be nice to checkout the algae on the shores of Alexandria, Egypt and see what kind they are. They tend to be found on stones and rocks near the seashore.

Explaining Science

One good way to understand anything, no matter how complex, is to explain it using a story. If there is a scientific concepts that seems very difficult to explain and understand then one can just tell the story of how such concept was first discovered and how it developed till it reached its current state. By tracing the steps of scientists and their explorations and by revealing their journeys into reaching such concepts the human brain can easily understand and digest the most complex scientific concepts ever. Contrastingly, hiding such intermediary steps in the journey of discovery can make complex scientific concepts very tough to comprehend.

Shade Plants

It is good to study shade plants and sun plants. When growing plants indoors one should take care about such distinction. Sun plants grown indoors should best be kept near a window. Shade plants can be kept indoors with little incident light reaching them. The knowledge about sun and shade plants is essential for landscapers and garden designers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Temperature, Growth and Development


It would be nice to fill up the space with plants everywhere crowding one another to capture the most amount of sun rays as possible thus not loosing any of it. This could lead to lush vegetation and a great storage of energy. If a lot of such trees and vegetation are edible, then we would be supplying the world with lots of food too by making the most use of sunlight through maximum photosynthesis.

Reflecting Sun Rays

Reflecting sun rays on plants using ponds has been a technique used in permaculture to provide plants with heat in colder regions. In contrast, solar panels have been used in above vegetation in agricultural land in hot regions in order to provide shade for the plants and at the same time collect energy from the sun!

Red Leaves

Leaves of plants are not always green. Sometimes when the leaves are still young, for instance, they are reddish in color. This might be that those young leaves in this phase of their development need a specific wavelength of sunlight and thus they have their non-green color to absorb the wavelength of sunlight they are in need of.

Temperature, Growth and Development

The rate of development of an organism tends to increase faster than the rate of growth of that organism as temperature increases. This concept is interesting and can be considered when one wants to grow trees and wants them to bear fruit as soon as possible. Mango trees may take several trees to bear fruit particularly of planted using seeds. Similarly date palm trees take several years to bear fruit. It would be interesting to consider how temperature could speed up the development phase. Thus dates might be smaller in size, as a result of increased temperature, while the date palm tree starts bearing dates in a shorter period of time.


It is interesting to reflect on the complexion of humans living in different geographic areas and to try to understand why each geographical region has its own complexion. People living in sun-stricken regions close to the equator in Africa tend to have dark complexions while those closer to the North Pole tend to have fair complexions. Why is this so? What results in this and what function does this have?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Economies and Ecosystems

Human Ecology

It is interesting to look at humans from an ecological point of view. Perhaps this is what is called human ecology. Humans need specific conditions in order to survive and thrive. Humans also need resources. It would be interesting to consider resources available for humans from an ecological point of view.

War Over Resources

Wars usually arise among humans when there is competition for resources. This particularly takes places in when resources are scarce. In the past, such resources could have been food. In our current times, one example of an important resource is energy, in particular oil. Many wars can be waged for this valuable much needed resource. In the future, if water proves to be scarce, it could be a resource upon which wars of the future are fought..


The concept of succession and phases is interesting. The earth has changed and evolved throughout the ages. In the past, conditions on earth were suitable for specific organisms. As the earth evolved and those conditions changes, so did the abundance and distribution of organisms on it. The evolution of earth and organisms on it took place in phases where each phase led to the following one. This concept of succession of phases is referred to in different areas in the Quran. The concept of succession is also a central one in permaculture.

Economies and Ecosystems

It would be interesting to study economy in the same way we study natural ecosystems. This can help us understand economies better and provide us with insights into how to make economies more resilient and thriving.

Deserts into Food Forests

It would be interesting to see how the science of ecology can give us the knowledge and insights by which we can green the deserts of Egypt (Western Desert) and turn them into lush vegetation of food forests!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Egypt Rapid Growth


The reason why we need to study ecosystems and systems in general is that science is based mainly on analysis, on dissecting things into smaller and smaller pieces then reconstructing larger things from their 'constituent' elements. This contrasts with the gestalt or holistic approach which states that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The word complexity often arises from the analytically, dissecting, components based system of thinking and understanding. If we rather use a holistic approach the word complexity just disappears.


It is interesting that the ultimate way by which ecology and developmental biology measure the fitness level of an organism is by measuring its fertility; its ability to produce offspring that survive and for its offspring to produce offspring that survive. The interesting part is that that is the very way by which ingenious, local and lower class people usually measure their 'value'. A woman who produces a lot of offspring is valued more. A man who has a high rate of fertility can boast about that. It is interesting how the scientific concept of fitness in ecology is the very same principle which ingenious and less educated people use to value themselves.

Ecological Niche

Providing the conditions that satisfy the ecological niche for a specific organism are enough to maintaining such organism in good shape and making it thrive. This can be used to keep plants in great condition even at locations other than those where it originally grew and adapted provided the conditions of its ecological niche are provided.

Of course it might be costly in terms of energy and effort to provide such conditions artificially. This is exactly what happened in Biosphere 2. Such artificial provision of conditions can lead to catastrophes same as what happened to Biosphere 2.

Ecological Agriculture

One of my ultimate dreams would be to design an agricultural system fully based on ecological knowledge and ecological science. This is the same idea behind permaculture, yet I would love to take it to the next level. It would be highly interesting to study organisms, communities and ecosystems in the various climates present in Egypt and come up with ultimate ecological agriculture systems that can thrive in our Egyptian environment.

The science of ecology has also progressed considerably since the early days when Bill Mollison first co-founded permaculture. This presents a great opportunity now for taking a second look at permaculture and greatly enriching it given the new advancements in the science of ecology.


Temperature is an important condition for organisms and their survival. Temperature is arguably the most important condition in an ecological niche of an organism. It is interesting to note that temperature is a very important condition for, not only the survival, but the optimal comfort of humans.

Wooden bench in vegetation
Wooden bench amidst vegetation.

A lot of energy is exerted to artificially regulate the temperature for humans in their manmade built environments. Tackling this single condition, which greatly affects humans, can be a central point if we want to live more sustainable. Natural housing and green architecture may provide methods for providing an optimal temperature condition for humans without so much energy expenditure. This is my ultimate dream.

Egypt Rapid Growth

It is interesting to note the rate of growth and how it increases with temperature. This provides Egypt with a great advantage given its relatively high temperature. Plants can grown much faster in Egypt and thus lead to much higher rates of productivity in agriculture. On another note, using solar energy, particularly thermal solar energy, can be a great source of renewable energy for Egypt.

Rate of Development

The concept of development responding to temperature faster than growth is very interesting. The more temperature increases the faster the development rate and growth rate of an organism, yet the rate of development responds even more rapidly to temperature than the rate of growth. This is interesting because at higher temperatures organisms might have less growth (less size) yet be more developed than other similar organisms that were provided with lower temperatures! I wonder what applications and insights this could have when thinking of humans living at varying temperatures.

Microclimates Give Hope

The concept of microclimates gives hope. Humans can create their own microclimates in which they live regardless of the destruction present around them. Yes everything is ultimately connected and pollution at one place may affect another far away from it yet at the same time we must take microclimates into account and use it to our advantage while working on the bigger problem in parallel.

Temperature Twins

It would be interesting to think of temperature twins, organisms that have the same temperature requirements and thrive in similar temperatures. Would be interesting to examine those and see what they may have in common. Of course this should be done on organisms living in different geographic locations and preferably widely separated across large distances.


Awareness is the way forward for reducing the harmful manmade effects on the environment. Without such awareness it would be difficult to hold back the growing destruction to our ecosystems. Education and awareness programs are a central part to any ecological survival we would be seeking. Science and the findings of science should be a core component of such awareness and educational programs.

Note: It looks like in the early morning I get a lot more inspiration to write than when attempting to do so at night.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Computer Modeling

The interesting thing about computer models about the environment and ecology is that they can simulate complex conditions and more or less predict how things could look like in the future under different scenarios. For instance they can tell us what the temperature could be if global warming continues for the decades to come and what effect such rise in temperature could have on the environment and consequently on humans living on earth.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Awareness Programs

Awareness Programs

When creating awareness programs about the environment, pollution, global warming and climate change, is is a good idea to start with a scientific background explaining the science behind global warming and showing charts and graphs. An explanation of greenhouse gases, how they affect the atmosphere and what made them increase should be provided.

Humidity Regulates Temperature

Water vapor absorbs the heat and reflected sun radiation. That's partly why in coastal cities and humid places temperature is regulated and heat is stored in the water vapor.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reactions of Humans to Change

It is interesting to note that humans can migrate if conditions in their country or place of residence change and are no longer favorable to them. They might migrate to other places which have conditions similar to the conditions that used to exist at their homeland before such conditions changed. This would be mimicking nature for some organism do just that when conditions of the environment change. Other organisms might evolve to adapt to the new conditions, similarly humans may adapt to change. Finally, some organisms cannot tolerate the change and just become extinct. Similarly, humans who cannot adapt to change would just be unable to survive.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Smoking: A Reaction to Pollution

It is interesting to think of smoking as a reaction from humans to the pollution in the environment. A bus driver who drives a bus for several hours every day and suffers from the highly polluted air in addition to the stress of traffic in Cairo might find it necessary to smoke in order to 'balance' his body make it less sensitive to such high rate of pollution and stress.

Natural Disasters

In the Quran, there are many stories of peoples who live and prospered but then were taken by natural disasters (due to their sins). It is interesting that such natural disasters that 'wash' away those peoples are followed by more flourishing days. This pattern is similar to what happens in nature itself, regeneration after natural disasters.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Plants and Wind

Plants and Wind

For plants it is not only freshwater availability, soils richness, sun and air but also physical forces such as wind that play a role in the existence and survival of plants. For instance a plant that faces strong winds might have its branches break or it might be blown away altogether.

Wind can also blow away humidity and thus rapidly making the water evaporate thus depriving the plant from enough water in case of arid lands. It is thus essential to grow wind breaks in the form of strong high trees that protect the rest of the crops grown in a farm from strong winds.

It is interesting to note that as plants adapt and acclimatize to conditions such as availability or shortage of water, soil nutrients and soil physical properties and the amount of light available they also adapt to other physical conditions such as the speed, strength and direction of wind. Too much wind can harm the plant, yet some wind can keep the branches dancing and happy helping it grow some resistance.


It is interesting to note the seaweed anchored to the rocks on the shores of Alexandria. It would be interesting to study them more and study their ecosystem.


Take photos of seaweeds on rocks on the shores of Alexandria.

Permaculture Edges

It is interesting to talk about the concept of boundaries. In permaculture, edges are considered to be the most productive. In ecology, a gradient of conditions shows up between the boundaries of two different states. The boundaries do not have to be only among zones of place but also among those of time. For instance, the time boundary between two seasons might show a spectrum of conditions and a consequent richness of organism populations.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Salinity and Agriculture

Salinity is an important factor when planning to grow crops in an agricultural land or when attempting to reclaim desert land in Egypt for agricultural purposes. We consider water salinity and salinity of soil. Some plants withstand salinity more than others. For instance olive trees can withstand high rates of salinity in water and soil. Date palm trees can also withstand high rates of salinity in water and soil. Many other crops and trees cannot stand high rates of salinity. Salinity is measures in parts in a million. So, a water source that has a rate of salinity of 1000 ppm means that for every million parts of water there exists 1000 parts of salt.

A common problem that arises when attempting to reclaim desert land for agricultural purposes is the surfacing of too much salt on the topsoil. When this happens, the soil becomes ruined and agriculture cannot resume there.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Farmland Soil

Farmland Soil

When looking for agricultural land or desert land to reclaim in Egypt the first two things to check are salinity in water and soil. Additional soil tests should be done to determine pH value as well as presence (or absence) of minerals.

Conditions present in a specific area of land can determine which plants can grow in it naturally. It also helps realize which weeds can thrive there. All this helps when attempting to do permaculture.

It is crucial to measure pH value of a soil to know which plants can grow in it and to modify the pH value if necessary in order to accommodate for the needs of plants you would like to grow. The herb spiral might offer a continuum of different humidity levels as well as light intensities and pH values.

This might give a clue why the type of weeds that grow in a specific soil actually 'fix' that soil and improve it by balancing it out through making it more or less acidic, more or less compact and more or less saline.

Making Pollution Disappear

It is interesting to note that there are organisms, specially microorganisms, that can tolerate living in some extreme conditions of temperature, humidity, salinity or acidity and alkalinity. Some also can tolerate high concentrations of 'toxic' materials such as heavy metals. It would be nice to see if such organisms can help in reducing pollution from such pollutants.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Indirect Effecting

The concept of an organism relying on other organisms and those other organisms being affected by factors such as the temperature thus consequently affecting the first organisms is an interesting one. This arrangement can help us look at communities of people in society where the presence of some types of people depends on the presence of other types of people. We can affect the presence of the first type of people by changing factors that affect the second type of people and thus indirectly affecting the first type.

Environment May Reverse Competition

The outcome of competition between tow organisms can be in favor of one of them within specific conditions and in favor of the other within different conditions (such as different temperatures). Similarly, we can find that the competition between humans in society (businesses or individuals) can be in favor of one side rather than the other according to the conditions of the environment.

Ecology and Growing Plants

The science of ecology can help a lot in determining how communities of plants can live together and interact with each other and with the environment around them and its factors. It is interesting to know all about factors affecting plants such as humidity, temperature, pH value, salinity and the presence (or absence) of specific minerals.

Humidity Loving Insects

I was surprised to find the humidity loving insects in the soil with my balcony plants while not having watered the plants for quite a while. I later came to the conclusion that probably the shade created by the small growing tree and the mulch and good compost based soil have all collaborated to keep the soil under the mulch highly humid. It's the concept of microclimates again.


The idea of microclimates provides a lot of hope for city dwellers. Urban settings have long suffered from high rates of air pollution and increased temperatures due to the heat island effect. This has been 'remedied' using technology in the form of electric air conditioners which actually worsen the local environmental temperature by creating more heat, not to mention consuming a lot of energy. People thus go into a vicious circle.

Microclimates, however, provide us with hope. One can still create a microclimate around his own home or neighborhood by growing more trees and using a number of natural shading and cooling techniques.

Composting Worms

Ecology can help a lot in keeping composting worms and earth worms. The science of ecology can provide us with the knowledge to create successful worm farms.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Road Wild Plants

It would be interesting to monitor wild plants that show up on the sides of desert roads in Egypt. They appear in very interesting patterns as if they had been planted deliberately. Their spacing and distribution is striking. It would be interesting to see their dispersion patterns, when do they grow and when do they die out and in which locations they are distributed. It would be nice to see how they get water, is it from the sparse rain or from the humidity caused by human activity or from other sources or a combination of sources and factors. It would also be interesting to check out their species and how such species are distributed and if there exists communities and if there are animals or other organisms that form communities with them.


Take photos of wild plants dispersed on the sides of roads in Egypt.

Temperature Twins

Could there be such thing as temperature twins? If two organisms thrive in a particular temperature ranges, even though they live in different geographical areas, could there be some relationship between them? That could be an interesting question to research.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Variation on Earth

The inclination of Earth on its axis while rotating around itself and the sun creates such variation in seasons. The spherical shape of the earth itself lends to interesting variation on earth. The presence of mountains and different altitudes also helps create even more variation on earth.

Variation can be with time or according to geographic location.



The concept of microclimate gives hope. It allows one to think that despite the destruction, pollution and deteriorating environment taking place globally, yet one can still live in a relative paradise and create his own microclimate and niche environment.

That does not mean that we should disconnect from what's going on around us and leave the earth to sink, as we are all connected and will get affected at the end no matter how 'isolated' we might be. It just means that in parallel with trying to "save the earth" we can still live in relative bliss by enjoying our own blessed microclimates in which we can thrive. Just planning some trees around your home can help you go that direction.

That's why an urban setting where trees are grown can be up to 10 degrees Celsius less in temperature than an adjacent one that has no trees.


The concept of microclimates also provides variation. It provides inspiration that in analogy to microclimates we can find people in urban communities who are living different states of life. The variation in such human communities can be great in a similar way that microclimates create variation. For instance, in a poor neighborhood there could exist some rich people. In an area where disease is rampant there could exist some health people. At a place where ethics have subsides there could exist ethical people. If such variation is lost, ecosystems become fragile and can fail, be destroyed and become replaced with other new ecosystems that allow for more variation and are more resilient.

This variation can perhaps explain the presence of fruits growing out of seasons for Mariam.


The concept of microclimates and variation in small areas can also be used in permaculture to provide for a variety of food in a small area of land.

So, we can find interesting variation, for instance, within Siwa itself at some scattered pieces of land that have springs.

Sea Moderates Temperature

Water from the sea absorbs a lot of heat in contrast to land which absorbs less heat. The land heats and cools very fast compared to the sea. Hence in Alexandria (Egypt) and other coastal cities weather is moderated by the waters in the sea. It can be warm at night and cool during the day.

Manmade Variation

Besides variation created by natural factors, human activity can also lead to a great deal of variation. For instance, during the Eid vacation where a large number of people who are working and living in Cairo (Egypt) go back to their governorates and industry ceases, a great positive variation in the local climates of Cairo shows up. Air pollution rates drop down sharply and the atmosphere becomes much more healthy. I have noticed during the last Eid vacation that birds increased and I believe I've even witnessed a species of bird that I had not been seeing around, it had a pleasant sound that I had not been familiar with earlier. As soon as the Eid vacation came to an end, such pleasant increased variation in species sadly subsided once again.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chill to Bloom

Chill to Bloom

Some trees need a period of chilling, such as apples and pears, in order to bear fruit. If the climate in which they are grown does not provide enough chilling (in terms of low temperature and period of time that such low temperature sustains) the tree will not bear fruit. That is why some trees would not be successful in warmer areas that do not provide such low temperatures. That's why also some trees would fail in bearing fruit if the winter of some year does not prove cold enough. This takes place more in temperate climates where winter is not always as cold as desired by such trees. Every type of those trees has its own chilling requirements.

Seed Germination

We sometimes put the seeds of some trees in the fridge in order to enable them break out of their state of seed dormancy. This occurs naturally in nature when seeds are exposed to cold climate followed by a period of warmth.

Friday, October 24, 2014



I am eager to know more about life at high temperatures as this is suitable for Egypt. I'd like to know how plants deal with that and how humans and other organisms deal with it too.

Four O'Clock Flowers

I have noticed that my four o'clock flower plants have acclimatized with high temperature when the tree that used to shade them was pruned and they suddenly received a higher doze of sunlight than they were used to. During the following season they managed to tolerate the heat much better. I believe the mulching I have added to them helped make them tolerate the extra heat yet I believe their ability to acclimatize did have a profound effect as well.


Humans also can get a sunstroke if they are exposed to excessive heat, through strong direct sunlight, for an extended period of time (a number of hours). This shows how the body fails to deal with the excessive heat and how its cooling system has a limit after which it can break down. Of course keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water helps in avoiding such sunstrokes and can also help in relieving the effects of a sunstroke after it hits.

That's why when running they advise us to drink lots of water before, during and after the run itself. That's why I get really tired and loose energy after such a running day in the sun particularly if I do not consume enough water.

Human Cells

I remember at school that in biology I heard that cells of human tissue would solidify at temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. This fact was pretty interesting for me, as for me intuitively things liquify at higher temperatures rather than solidify. The teacher explained it by making an analogy with the white of an egg, it solidifies when heated. This notion was scary to me, as it signaled the death of human tissue at such high temperature. I wounder if this piece of info was really true. I would like to check it out and know more about how this process works and consequences and all.


I wonder what interesting wild plants would be found in Sinai that withstand such high desert heat and low availability of water.

Fire-free Egypt

In Egypt we do not usually have high risks of fire despite the high temperatures and also low humidity. The reason behind this is mainly that we do not have forests in Egypt. Houses also are almost never built using wood (perhaps also due to the lack of presence of forests in Egypt).

Fire-surviving Plants

It is interesting to realized that some plants would not regenerate or propagate (seeds would not sprout) except after experiencing very high temperatures of a fire.


That's why we use very high temperatures to sterilize something. Such high temperatures can kill harmful microorganisms.


This also explains the concept of soil solarization that is sometimes used in agriculture to sterilize soil from 'harmful' microorganisms.

Also water solarization is a method by which water can be purified by exposing it to direct sunlight for a specific period of time.

I have also heard before that direct sunlight as it falls for a period of time on streams of water can break down pathogens and help purify the water.


That's why compost heaps that are high enough can reach high temperatures that would kill pathogens. Compost heaps higher than a certain level though might even cause a fire! It is therefore advisable to keep compost heaps at a height of 1 meters only and not more.

Biomimicry in Houses

It would be interesting to look at the many strategies that organisms employ to avoid, reduce or withstand heat in order to get inspiration for methods by which we could build houses for humans that would employ similar natural strategies.

Hell Fire

Hell and fire are considered to be punishment for (bad) humans in Islam, Christianity and other religions. Hell fire represents extremes of heat conditions that the human body is naturally unable to tolerate causing extreme degrees of stress, discomfort and pain.


When two different environments meet, their interaction creates a continuum of transitioning environments between them which in turn results in a high diversity of organisms living in such high variety of micro-environments. This is basically the concept of edges pointed to in permaculture.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Genetic Variation and the Evolution of Cold Tolerance


  • Different people have different heat and cold tolerance (that's why). Genetics plus acclimatization.
  • Should therefore fetch plants with genetically good (cold) tolerance plus let them acclimatize.
  • Explains acclimatization for houseplants. (hardening?)
  • Tomatoe varieties that can withstand cold temperature (and be grown in winter) in Egypt.
  • That's why plants I have have acclimatized to the weather (heat) and water (low).
  • That's why it's best to take cuttings or seeds from plants that grow nearby in your same area (for instance for me: from Nasr City rather than from Giza).
  • I love graphs that show results of experiments (data plotted)!
  • Under a certin temperature, a plant or organism stops attempting to acclimatize.


  • Should go explore wild plants in South Sinai and in Siwa (Dr. Mahdy).


  • Aclimatization vs genetic factors.
  • "Cold tolerance varies between geographic races of a species."
  • Opuntia fragilis (cactus)
  • "The geographic range of crop species has been extended into colder regions by palnt breeders."
  • Umbilicus rupestris
  • "Past climatic changes, for example ice ages, will have changed the temperature tolerance of species as well as forcing their migration."

Life at Low Temperatures



  1. Antifreeze in cars, any resemblance with ecology?
  2. Europe and the US feel the cold, for us in Africa we feel the heat is the problem (for their plants too).

That's Why

  1. That's why the human body gets used to AC.
  2. That's why emotional 'hibernation' can help a person withstand and tolerate strong emotional and psychological shock.


  • "More than 80% of earth’s biosphere is permanently cold."
  • "Cold is the fiercest and most widespread enemy of life on earth."
  • Temperatures below the optimum are harmful, but there is a wide range of such temperatures that cause no physical damage and over which any effects are fully reversible.
  • Damage at low temperatures that can be lethal:
    • chilling
    • freezing
  • Chilling injury: "Many organisms are damaged by exposure to temperatures that are low but above freezing point"
    • "The fruits of the banana blacken and rot after exposure to chilling temperatures."
  • "Temperatures below 0°C can have lethal physical and chemical consequences even though ice may not be formed."
  • "Water may supercool to temperatures at least as low as −40°C.
  • "Organisms have at least two different metabolic strategies that allow survival through the low temperatures of winter"
    • "A freeze-avoiding strategy uses low-molecular-weight polyhydric alcohols (polyols, such as glycerol) that depress both the freezing and the supercooling point and also ‘thermal hysteresis’ proteins that prevent ice nuclei from forming"
    • "A contrasting ‘freeze-tolerant’ strategy, which also involves the formation of polyols, encourages the formation of extracellular ice, but protects the cell membranes from damage when water is withdrawn from the cells."
  • "The tolerances of organisms to low temperatures are not fixed but are preconditioned by the experience of temperatures in their recent past."
    • acclimation: when it occurs in the laboratory
    • acclimatization: when it occurs naturally
  • "The exposure of an individual for several days to a relatively low temperature can shift its whole temperature response downwards along the temperature scale. Similarly, exposure to a high temperature can shift the temperature response upwards."
  • "Acclimatization may start as the weather becomes colder in the fall, stimulating the conversion of almost the entire glycogen reserve of animals into polyols, but this can be an energetically costly affair: about 16% of the carbohydrate reserve may be consumed in the conversion of the glycogen reserves to polyols."
  • "Dormant stages are typically dehydrated, metabolically slow and tolerant of extremes of temperature."


  1. What's the difference between acclimation and acclimatization?
  2. How do organisms respond to and survive in cold temperatures?
  3. How can plants be acclimated to cold temperature (tomatoes)?